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OlayemiOniroyin.com: The Yoruba Blog Carrying The Nigerian Message

The advent of western values has informed our writing style, our medium of communication and its evolution overtime. English Language has become the popular medium for many with less recognition for indigenous language in Nigeria. However for Olayemi Olatilewa, a Nigerian, who blogs in yoruba language, the dialect has far more to offer. In this interview, he shares his inspiration, and exciting passion in curating news in a local dialect, on our Blogger Series.

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1. Who is behind OlayemiOniroyin.com?

My name is Olayemi Olatilewa. Some people call me Olayemi Oniroyin, or Olayemi Dakewi. I graduated from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun state, where I studied Yoruba Language and Literature. I am a yoruba poet, I also write news. When I chant poems, people call me Olayemi Dakewi, and when I am into the media, people call me Olayemi Oniroyin. I am also a Broadcast Journalist, and also a content writer for a Yoruba newspaper.

2. At what particular moment did you conceive the idea or what event brought the idea? I have been writing for long. It has been part of my abilities and talent since birth. I started writing in English before I moved to blogging in yoruba.

3. Why blog in Yoruba? What's the motive behind the blogging? Before Blogging, I have seen different kind of people going online, and do all sort of things here in Nigeria. I noticed the flaw of copying and pasting news contents, so I said within myself to stand out, and not tagged among the 'regular' ones. Secondly, I love creativity. I love to do my things in a very special way. I believe that this is me, and this is where I would be different and stand out. I decided to blog in yoruba to do something new, that has not been done in the industry. I found this out to be true before I started – that no one has ever blogged in yoruba.

4. What impacts do you think your blogging style will have or has had? I have made a lot of impacts. I have been able to connect a lot of people in diaspora to their roots here in Africa, especially in Nigeria. People call me everyday from UK, US, Sudan, Honduras, etc. This gives me joy that so many people read my blog even though they are far away from home.

5. How far do you think your blogging style will go? How sustainable will it be in the next few years considering the Language style? The reason why I blog is because that is part of me while other things are secondary. The trend of things now dictate that yoruba language has a great future in comparison to any other languages in Nigeria. We have numerous publications in yoruba, and even extended to movies in yoruba, igbo, and hausa. I do say to myself that if these people are still in business, and making it, then I will also make it and be relevant. I do say that if Alaroye (a yoruba newspaper that has been around for a very long time) is still in business, then I will also be relevant. There is really a lot to hope for.

6. What's your performance in yoruba language in Primary and Secondary schools? Was your performance a major influence to own an indigenous blog?
(Laughs) I studied Yoruba Language and Literature. But right from my primary and secondary school, I have had interest in yoruba language and did excellently. The people that I have moved with are also a major influence. Dele Momodu is a great inspiration for me. Dele Momodu studied Yoruba Language at the Obafemi Awolowo University, and so inspired by his success and the way he makes use of words. According to him: 'As a yoruba person, you conceive your thoughts in yourba and later translate it into English. If you are so good in yoruba, you'd be so good in expressing yourself because yoruba language is so rich. And if you are able to put your thoughts together in yoruba, expressing yourself in an articulative manner acceptable by all would be very easy. So simply, Yoruba has been a basic part of my life.

7. What's your view about the dwindling usage and teaching of yoruba language in schools? Do you have a solution for this?
If we are not proud of our language, it will fade off. What we do is to promote the language, and tell the public of its importance. When we make use of it in writing, people will see the reality of what we are talking about and embrace it. And it is ongoing. If we don't promote it, people won't take it serious. We need to tell our teachers, and parents that yoruba should not be considered as vernacular but equally important as other languages. A look at China – with the technological innovations inform us of the dynamism in indigenous language.

8. Are people allowed to make comments in languages other than yoruba on the blog? If such arises, how do you manage it?
Why not? People drop comments on my blog both in yoruba language and English. The simple act of leaving comments reflect that you read and understood the content. We cannot rub off the fact that there are some people who cannot write in yoruba. Irrespective of the language used, I appreciate leaving comments, and I give responses to them. Some people cannot write in yoruba but they love it, read it, and learn.

9. Do you blog all alone? Or with staff?
I blog all alone for now. As it is with English, we have grammatical rules in Yoruba. People think yoruba language is easy, but it is not. Not everyone can write in yoruba.

10. Yoruba is diverse; we have Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesa, Ilaje etc with different tongues, if you were to choose one as Oduduwa lingua franca, which one will you settle for?
To go by the way we were taught in school, the general yoruba language acceptable in classroom is the combination of all yoruba dialects, but the combination is closer to the one spoken in Oyo. So we want to believe that 'Oyo' yoruba is the general language. But, this does not mean Oyo language is the ultimate best,but Oyo language is the one academics believe is closer to the general formed language in yoruba land.

11. What has surprised you most since you have started Olayemioniroyin.com? Successes and failures?
What has surprised me most is people calling me from different countries. It amaze me that they have read different kind of things on my blog and keep up the excitement to call me from Paraguay, Sudan, Costa Rica, and so many countries that I have never been before. This gives me joy that we have a wide reach, and spur us to do more. No failures really, but challenges. I have written some certain things that got me into trouble. The notable one was of a musician. I didn't balance the story well, instead I allowed my emotions to come into play but I am very okay now. I later deleted the post because it sparked a lot of controversies.
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Olayemi Olatilewa blogs at OlayemiOniroyin.com, and you can tweet at him: @olayemioniroyin

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